Many senior living communities are looking for ways to decrease the use of antipsychotic medications through nonpharma approaches. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has set a national goal of reducing the use of antipsychotic medication in long-term care facilities by 15 percent by the end of 2019.
A viable alternative? Aromatherapy. CMS supports the use of aromatherapy as an “individualized, nonpharmacological intervention to help meet behavioral health needs.” Clinical studies point to promising results: aromatherapy programs have helped in reducing medications for pain, anxiety, and depression, as well as improving sleep and lowering fall rates.
Lillian, formerly an opera singer and today a resident living with dementia, likes to sing loudly. It’s her way of communicating. But it can be disruptive. To help her focus on other activities that feel familiar, staff in the community where she lives put together a “life engagement kit.”
An employee exodus continues to batter the senior living industry, with an average staff churn rate of 42 percent. Unhealthy, unhappy, and “unhinged” employees can lead to widespread fallout, from poor health outcomes and lower satisfaction for patients to higher costs and a tarnished reputation for senior care providers.
In a highly competitive senior care labor market, delivering a consistently positive experience for employees is a key differentiator. A viable way to attract and hold on to dedicated staff is through an employee wellness program– designed to enhance the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of those who care for residents.
Part 2: Celebrating Every Beat
As noted in our previous blog, February is American Heart Health Month, a 28-day celebration of heart health. To help seniors understand and avoid the risk factors for cardiac disease, Lifetime Wellness – a leading provider of wellness services to senior living facilities – is supporting its partner communities in conducting a February wellness campaign. The theme is “Celebrate Every Beat…Live a Heart-Healthy Life.”
Part 1: Meeting the Need
“Many believe that heart disease is a fact of life in our senior years. Yet we have plenty of ways to keep our hearts in great shape, at every age,” says Callie Whitwell, chief operating officer and founding partner at Lifetime Wellness. “Understanding how to best approach daily health is essential, and being in the know about a heart condition can alleviate anxiety.”
Yet surprisingly, just 3 percent of seniors have the foundational knowledge to monitor their personal health, follow care plans, and pursue healthy behaviors. “We work with senior living communities to help residents understand how they can put less stress on the heart,” says Whitwell.
Once upon a time, activity and recreation programs in senior communities were typically low priority. Yet as the senior population surges, and seniors seek to stay active as a way of life, today’s senior living providers are rethinking their offerings to include wellness and life enrichment programs. In expanding their focus, many are finding they can’t go it alone. They’re looking for trusted partners to extend in-house resources and design an engaging, person-centered experience.
The holidays are a time of joy and celebration. But for the 5.7 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) – and their families – it can be a season of angst and isolation.
A groundbreaking program called Music & Memory™ has brought life-changing hope to people who suffer from ADRD, helping to trigger memories, build bridges, and improve quality of life. Launched in 2006 by Dan Cohen, the program took the spotlight with the 2014 documentary, “Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory,” and was recently endorsed by legendary singer-songwriter Carole King. With the therapeutic effects of personalized music, many people living with ADRD become more aware, animated, and “alive inside.”
Throughout the nation’s senior living communities, professional caregivers strive to deliver quality, compassionate care. But they’re often at risk of burnout. Physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion can erode their effectiveness in caring not only for residents but also for themselves.
Statistics tell the story of a weary workforce. Each year, an estimated 45 percent of senior care employees leave the industry.
“Being a professional caregiver takes a special heart but can lead to ‘compassion fatigue,’” says Stephen Chee, director of employee wellness at Lifetime Wellness. His company provides person-centered wellness, life enrichment, and recreational programming to independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation, and memory care facilities.
Baby Boomers – those 77 million babies born between 1946 and 1964 – have long grown up. And they aren’t going gently into their golden years. They’re demanding wellness as a way of life. To speak to the needs of this surging demographic, senior living communities are pursuing programs that promote health, happiness, and whole-person development.
“Today’s seniors are more educated, more proactive, and more vocal than ever before,” says Callie Whitwell, chief operating officer, and founding partner at Lifetime Wellness. “They are clear in their expectations to live fully and age successfully.” Whitwell’s company provides person-centered wellness, life enrichment, and recreational programming to independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation, and memory care facilities.
Falls can change lives – in the worst of ways. Each year, one in three seniors fall, and 20 percent sustain a serious injury, from head trauma to a broken hip. These injuries can reduce mobility and independence, and increase the risk of premature death. In fact, falls are the top cause of injuries, and death from injuries, among older Americans.
The good news is that falls are preventable. In the quest to reduce falls among seniors, leading senior living communities are implementing structured programs that take a long-term, unified approach to fall prevention. Read More
Loneliness is not only a pressing social issue. It’s also a major health risk, especially for seniors. A groundbreaking study links social isolation with a higher risk of death in adults aged 52 and older.It’s been found to be as physically harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and contributes to cognitive decline, including the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD).
To fight the loneliness epidemic – experienced by more than 40 percent of seniors throughout the nation – innovators in senior care are taking new approaches. They’re helping residents to seek rewarding activities, make robust social connections, and find a renewed sense of purpose.